NFATCA Report: The NFATCA Guide to: Purchase but Protect Your Investment
By John Brown

Most all of us have purchased an NFA item over the years and looked closely at the form wondering who that manufacturer was or when the item was actually made or literally how many times other people have owned the item you just purchased. There are many representations out there from a lot of people, but how many of you have actually investigated the history of an NFA item in any detail? Likewise in this same column, we have recommended that if something doesn’t look right with the transfer form we need to investigate the issue and get any mistakes corrected with the National Firearms Registry.

In a previous NFATCA column, we reported that we were working diligently to put together a title insurance policy for NFA items that would insure you very much like title insurance on your home. In that instance an underwriter investigates the full details of your purchase to make certain that in the history of the property there are no open events that could cause you to lose your property by some claim to the property as a result of an unsettled debt or unpaid taxes, etc. The NFATCA is developing a rider to existing insurance policies, or with a new policy, that would allow you to purchase title insurance on especially expensive pieces that could not be replaced without undue hardship. If you pay a substantial amount of money for an NFA item and, for some reason in the future, you found out that what you thought you purchased in the first place, in reality is not what was represented in the sale, you would be protected. For many years there have been countless discussions on the availability of this type of policy. By the time you read this article, that type of rider or a simple title insurance policy will be available for NFACTA members. As the details of that policy are unveiled, we will announce on the web site and in other forums the details and the availability of the policies.

Additionally, many of you have asked, “How can I check on the history of my NFA item to make certain that what I am purchasing is what I am told it is?” With today’s technology, that task is a lot easier. Let’s say that you want to check the validity and history on anything that you purchase that costs $10,000 or more. One of the simplest and easiest tasks to check up on your investment is to back track the history by finding out who your dealer actually purchased the gun from. Once you have that information you can then backtrack all the way back to the original manufacturer of the item. Though this sounds like a laborious process, in some cases, this course of action can be straightforward especially when the item has passed through only one or two hands since its original manufacture.

On guns with a more convoluted history, asking ATF for help in your research through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a relatively simple and painless process that you may want to investigate and exercise prior to inking a $50,000 deal. Most dealers don’t mind the 2-3 week wait and a wealth of information can be made available about your pending purchase. We have found that Averill Graham, the Division Branch Chief of the Disclosure Division of ATF is a friendly and extremely helpful resource when it comes to tracking down information which might help in assuring you that whatever you think you are purchasing is really what is represented. By completing a FOIA request with ATF you can gather a host of information that will tell you just about everything you wanted to know about the origin and the transfers concerning the item you plan to buy. Although a lot of the information concerning individuals or businesses has been redacted (blocked out), a lot of useful and assuring information can be obtained that will help you make certain that you are getting what you thought.

The Disclosure Division at ATF can be contacted at (202) 648-8740 to initiate the process of conducting FOIA research on any NFA item you want to check. Further information can also be found at www.atf.gov/about/foia. This process may take a couple of weeks to procure, so if you’re in a hurry, manually tracing back the forms as far as you can may be a better solution to provide immediate results. In conclusion, there is always a lot of good information available on a prospective purchase. Don’t take the risk if there is any doubt in your mind that you might not be getting what you thought. The facts in the forms speak for themselves and learning the history to your investment may very well prove to add more than a significant value to your purchase.

While we work the underwriting issue for title insurance, there is an immediate answer to obtaining information on your investment. Make certain that you are getting what you are investing for in your purchase.

For additional information or membership, visit us at: www.NFATCA.org

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V12N3 (December 2008)
and was posted online on July 20, 2012


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